Musings of a college conservative

A Neat Idea

The Free State Project is a group of liberty minded individuals who want to have a group of at least 20,000 people all move into the same state. With this political base, they plan on influencing state policies to such a degree as to roll back gun control laws, install classical liberal economic policies, and implement a whole host of traditionally libertarian ideas.

I, while not signing up for the move due to the fact that my life is utterly chaotic and I don't know where I'll be in the next two years (hopefully not a merchant marine ship in Shanghai), would like to voice my support for such a move. This is the raison d'etre for federalism. Our states are supposed to be the laboritories for democracy, and this is one hell of an experiment.

Seeing as how I am greatly sympathetic to the majority of their causes, I wish the Free State Project the best of luck. By the time my life is more stable, I hope they have made some good progress, and I may just decide to move on over and help out.

As for which state to do it in, my vote is Montana.

Abortion Ship
warning: cultural conservative ahead

Just one more reason to like Eastern Europeans. Poles protested a ship that takes women to international waters to give abortions, away from their home countries where the procedure is outlawed. The boat, run by Women on Waves, was held up by protests, violated the port's entry orders, and was found to have on board pills that are illegal under Polish law.

Poland is a staunch Catholic country whose population still believes that abortion is wrong. I am glad to see that there are still people around the world who hold the value of human life in high regard. Abortion is such a divisive issue here in the U.S., that nobody really talks about it. I have recently, however, had conversations with a couple of people who feel like I do that a child should have their rights protected even if it inconveniences the mother or father who have already made her choices.

As a sidenote, our focus on abortion being a "woman's right" has only served to undermine the role of male responsability for pregnancy and children. If a woman is pregnant, it is considered only in her agency to keep or terminate the child. As a result, the man is completely shut out from the decision. This had lead many men and women to assume that the child is the woman's problem. It took two people to create it, and when we cut off one of those people, it is easy to see why males, in general, use this as an opportunity to skip out on responsability for wearing protection in the first place, and for taking care of the child if the mother decides to keep it.

I do see hope on the horizon. Apparently, though not here at the cooperative where I live, today's generation is more conservative than the last. A newsweek cover story from the June 9, 2003 edition cited a poll showing that the majority of Americans believe that life begins at conception.

Perhaps we have finally regained a bit of our humanity that was ripped out by the selfish and responsibility-disinclined generation of the 1960's. It is time we decided to protect the weakest and most defenseless of our society.

Supreme Court F***ks It Up

Vagueness and Obfuscation Trump Transparency.

The Supreme Court saw fit to denounce the undergraduate admissions criteria for diversity at U.Mich which gave points for race, but upheld the law school admissions, which is a "'highly individualized, holistic review of each applicant's file' in which race counts as a factor but is not used in a 'mechanical way.'"

Apparently, racial diversity is a compelling interest that the state can step in to control.

"Justice O'Connor's opinion in the law school case embraced the diversity rationale. 'Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civil life of our nation is essential if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized,' she said. She added that law schools, in particular, served as gateways to economic and political leadership. 'Access to legal education (and thus the legal profession) must be inclusive of talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.'"

This says that if somehow every shade of skin tone and every purveyor of a localized food and dance (culture) were represented at every single law school, we would have a perfect government. So if there is one Inuit candidate, they ought to be let in to fulfill diversity, no matter how unqualified. One of my main faults with this decision is the use of doublespeak. "All racial and ethnic groups," does not mean all. There will be no exta benefit for descendents of Irish Catholics turned Protestant - even though that is a culture unto itself. What about Bretons, Basques, Normans, Romanche, Hungarians from Romania, etc. Our current leadership seems to forget that Europe has hundreds of ethnicities, yet all their descendents in America are labeled white and presumed to come from lives of privilege and wealth.

Assuming away the definition of race and ethnicity (blacks and hispanics) and assuming away a better form of diversity (thoughts and ideas), we'll deal with the issue of how to best implement "diversity" programs in the most "fair" way possible. If this is going to exist, I want it to be done in the most transparent way possible. Sandra Day O'Connor even says as much: "'In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.'" The undergraduate program was transparent. We knew how people got in. If we wanted we could go look at their tally sheet. That's a visible way. The law school admissions is far more vague. The holistic review never has to justify itself or give empirics. This version of admissions is based on good feelings. If people are taking scarce spots in highly competitive programs, I want to know why, and not just because some admission counselor got warm feelings. We publish the criteria of SAT and GPA, why not race? Why make it a hidden factor, used for constructing a perfect society behind closed doors? This smacks of what Frederic Bastiat wrote about in 1850 in The Law,

"But what a difference there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same difference between him and mankind!
It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator's genius. This idea — the fruit of classical education — has taken possession of all the intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter."

If these people wish to construct their perfect society, fine. I can't do anything about it. The process should at least be transparent, with clear guidelines. Vagueness is always manipulated and invites corruption. The harms of a quota-like system, decried in the Bakke decision, are far more tolerable than a secretive junta desiring to create a racial vision.

What World Do These People Live In?

We all saw the two inch print last week declaring that hispanics have officially become the largest minority in America, and the racists have something to say about it. One of Sunday's op-eds in the L.A. Times described how this demographic shift does not matter, and that the true dichotomy in America will always be black/white. The main thrust of the argumentation is that blacks have a distinct place in the American cultural mindset, and their ability to galvanize white guilt can not be matched by any other minority. Essentially, blacks make whites uncomfortable because of historical injustices in a way that hispanics never can. This piece suffers from several faulty assumptions.

"Even as Latinos exert growing influence on American politics and culture, blacks will continue to have a more powerful claim on America's moral imagination."

One of the main problems with generalizations is that you don't know what the hell the author is talking about. First of all, he falls in the trap of positing political power as if it was a tangible zero-sum game. Latinos can claim power without threatening blacks, or whites, or asians, etc. He also places these groups in opposition to whites. If anything, as a Republican, I think hispanics and blacks can be a boon to our party. Both groups are traditionally socially conservative and very religious, with values closer to the right than the left. Democrats have a grip on these groups for irrational reasons, and as more information comes out, the tides of political alignment will change. After all, politics should be about ideas, not physical appearance. Second, what is "moral imagination" Does he mean thoughts like, "if I had the chance to steal a million dollars and not get caught, should I do it?"

Their history of slavery and segregation ensures that African Americans will not be displaced in their role as the preeminent "other" in U.S. society.

I always thought the preeminent "other" in U.S. society was government tyranny and obstruction. Apparently, this author views himself as a race warrior.

The social distance between brown and white has never been as great as that between black and white.

The author seems to think that brown only refers to hispanics. If this statement were to stand as is, we would be asked to assume that in the current political climate there is a smaller divide between whites and arabs than between whites and blacks. Clearly, the author has missed the most recent evolution in race relations.

"Cozying up to Hispanics can help whites show how tolerant they are," says Stanford philosopher Richard Rorty. "Someone who hates the idea of hiring blacks can say, 'Hey, look how many Hispanics I have.' "

Really now, this is getting absurd. I just do not understand these people's cognitive processes. Who out there hates blacks but loves hispanics??? It seems to me that racial intolerance tends to be an all or none characteristic. Most people are either ok with people of different backgrounds, or they are not. My life experience leads me to conclude that this racial substitution hypothesis is a stretch. One more reason to believe that philosophers get paid for having overactive imaginations.

Latinos may now outnumber blacks, but African Americans will remain firmly entrenched in the American psyche.

After five years at a liberal institution of higher learning and reading articles like this, I am beginning to think that maybe I am the odd one out on the issue of race. Speaking in terms of "racial/ethnic group, numbers, entrenched in psyche" is nonsensical on a fundamental level. That's just not the way my brain is wired, and it is not because of some blanket rejection of binaries. I can think in terms of right/left, conservative/liberal, libertarian/authoritarian, but I do not think ethnic group/ethnic group. Ethnic groups are made up of people, individuals with their own thoughts and ideologies. They are not homogenous groups, why do we treat them as such? It makes more sense to groups people along lines of worldview, no matter what thier skin color may be.

Dealing with the idea of historical injustice, I am reminded of a peom by Langston Hughes, entitled "I, too, sing America." The narrator is a servant forced to eat in the kitchen away from the white family he serves, thinking of the day when he will sit at the table with everyone else. At the end, he says, "I, too, am America." Yes, bad things have been done to blacks, hispanics, jews, native americans, irish, italian, etc., but we have to realize that we are all Americans. What unites us is different than what unites the citizens of every other nation on earth. They were all formed more or less of the basis of the inhabitants and tribes of a region. Ours was a country founded on ideology alone. If, even given our ideological basis, we cannot look past skin color and ethnicity, how can we expect any other country to do it?

Whatever the color classification of America, the real sorting ought to be done based on our grey matter.

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